HBReads is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a mission to bring the adults, students, and families of Huntington Beach together to read one book for a community wide experience. Each year, HBReads assembles a selection committee to choose a book that meets the criteria of 300 pages or less, appropriate for ages 15+, and ideally ties in some form of diversity. At the start of the new year, the nonprofit graciously distributes copies of the selected book to HBUHSD school sites for students and staff to enjoy. For 2016, HBReads selected Conor Grennan’s New York Times bestselling memoir, Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal.
On Friday morning, students and staff members from around the district gathered in the EHS gymnasium for the opportunity to hear Conor speak in-depth about his memoir – a story that reflects his time volunteering in the Little Princes Orphanage in war-torn Nepal, how it drastically changed his life, and most importantly, the lives of others.
With each and every individual fully tuned in, Conor began to explain his roller-coaster of a journey throughout his time in Nepal. He explained how, after just a short time at the Little Princes Orphanage, he was saddened and shocked to learn the truth behind the children he had come to adore – many of them had not been orphaned, but rather unjustly taken from their homes and families by child traffickers. Conor expressed how much he cherished his time with the kids, and how before he had to leave, arranged for them to be transferred to an improved organization also operating inside Nepal.
Just days later, Conor escaped the country before a violent revolution erupted in the capital, Kathmandu. After arriving home to New York, he received horrifying news that once again, his children in Nepal had been snatched by traffickers to be sold as slaves. After learning of this, Conor found himself back in the country walking hundreds of miles, desperately searching for the children and also determined to change this devastating pattern.
After this long and treacherous journey, Conor managed to locate and reunite the children he sought out for. Following this experience, he went on to not only create an upgraded orphanage for Nepal’s children, but start Next Generation Nepal (NGN), an organization dedicated to reuniting child victims of trafficking with their families and providing a suitable, supported place to live for those still orphaned.
To this day, Conor reports having reunited over 500 trafficked children with their displaced families throughout Nepal. As he shared this fact with the assembly attendees, applause erupted from the students and staff members that had lived vicariously through the words of his story.
After his conclusion, students in attendance had the opportunity to address Conor with questions about his journey, Next Generation Nepal, and his life now. To conclude the event, he signed each student’s copy of his book and even took a “selfie” with those who wanted one.
“Conor was an inspiration to our students and staff. He taught us so much about looking beyond our immediate world as we work to discover our passions and purpose in life,” said Jason Ross, Edison Assistant Principal.
Following the assembly, a heavy-sense of gratitude for the continued partnership with HBReads and Conor’s world enlightenment was clearly present amongst those in attendance.